Throw Back to Basics: Single-Firefighter Extension Ladder Raise

A firefighter raises a ladder during a training drill.

By Brian Zaitz

Ladders are an integral part of the fire service. From aerial ladders mounted on apparatus to ground ladders of varying lengths, they each play a key role in fire ground success. Although many departments consider ground ladders to be a “truck company” function, ground ladders can be found on almost every engine, ladder truck, quint, and even rescue. Every firefighter must be proficient in their use and functionality on the fireground.

One of the most common ground ladders it the extension ladder, commonly found with one- or two-fly sections. These ladders vary in length from 24’ to 35’ they provide quick and efficient access to elevated areas for rescue, ventilation, and fire attack.

The ability to quickly deploy and set-up a ground ladder can literally be the difference between life and death–take for example a contact rescue needed for a victim hanging from a window. The ground ladder rescue must be executed flawlessly for successful results.

Ground ladders are traditionally shouldered or carried at the waist. This was great in recruit school, however on the fire ground these ladders are often dragged, slid, and pulled to the desired location for deployment. Once at the deployment site, a single firefighter can quickly get the ladder in place by performing a flat raise of the ladder against the building, which provides additional stability and a surface to raise the fly against. Next, the firefighter raises the fly section by pulling the halyard, listening for the clicks for the dogs. Once the desired height is reached, the ladder is pulled out and rolled to place the fly section out. The ladder is adjusted as needed and the halyard tied. The firefighter should communicate the ladder placement so everyone operating on the fireground is clear of its location, if needed.

The effective and efficient use of ground ladders is a fireground skill that is only enhanced by continuous drilling in the training field. Take some time your next tour to deploy your cache of ground ladders and enhance your next fireground. 

Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (202 KB).

Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.


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